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Fangraphs Take on Barria’s Slider


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Chris Gilligan is the author.

In 2022, the strongest performer overall on first pitches was none other than Angels reliever Jaime Barría, who finished with a summed run value of -10.1 on the opening offering, nearly two runs better than any other pitcher despite facing just 316 hitters. On a per-pitch basis, Barría’s performance was even more exceptional: his -.032 runs per first pitch were nearly twice that of any other pitcher with as many as 300 batters faced. It’s worth mentioning that there are limits to what we can glean from this data; around 300 pitches is a relatively modest sample size, and Piper Slowinski warns us that pitch value is more effective as a descriptive stat than a predictive one. Barría is a true outlier here, but as we indulge in taking a look at what was new in his approach, we should do so without assuming he’ll be able to reproduce these numbers in the future.


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From a shape and profile perspective, it’s not all that special a pitch; its 32 inches of vertical break and four inches of horizontal break are both below league average. But he leaned on it even more heavily to start off, increasing its first pitch usage from 36.8% to 57.6% year-over-year in 2022. That’s more often than any pitcher with at least 300 batters faced in the 15 years of Baseball Savant’s pitch data, and 46% more frequently than any of the 178 pitchers that reached that threshold in 2022.

2022 might be an outlier. Interesting to see if he can still get batters in a hole now that they will expect a slider.

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